PJ Washington talks Charlotte Hornets and more at Kentucky Draft Academy

Charlotte Hornets PJ Washington (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets PJ Washington (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

During Kentucky’s annual Draft Academy, PJ Washington reflected on his college career, as well as his new career in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets.

Many Charlotte Hornets fans are wondering what kind of impact the team can get from PJ Washington as a rookie. His status is a bit cloudy at the moment because he did not get the chance to play in Summer League due to a foot injury. All fans really have to go off is his play in college, which was great, but the NBA is a different animal.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak stated shortly after the draft that Washington, along with Charlotte’s other draftees, Cody Martin and Jalen McDaniels, will likely spend some time in the G-League this season. Giovanni Spillman, my Co-Expert here at Swarm and Sting, recently talked about why Washington deserves more than just G-League minutes.

While I don’t see Washington making an immediate impact, I do think he will get minutes later on as the 2019-20 season progresses. I thought Washington was a very good pick for Charlotte, and think he will have a long, successful NBA career.

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Washington played under Hall of Fame coach John Calipari in college. Calipari, who is one of the best recruiters in the country, got a commitment from Washington and was a big reason why Washington was able to develop into a lottery pick.

Each year, Calipari holds a Kentucky Draft Academy. The academy features former Kentucky players from the 2019 Draft Class, like Washington, as well as players from Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster, which has a lot of talent.

During the event, Washington discussed multiple topics, including how disappointed he was to not be able to participate in Summer League for the Hornets. You can check out the full video here from Mario Anderson, a reporter for Spectrum News 1 Kentucky.

"“Yeah, it was tough.” Washington said. “I hate sitting on the bench watching basketball. I feel like in due time everything will pay off. I’m excited to be a Hornet and I can’t wait to get things rolling.”"

Washington also mentioned how Calipari is more of a mentor for him now that he’s hit the next level of basketball. Calipari takes pride in getting guys into the NBA, and Washington could absolutely be yet another very successful player to come out of Kentucky.

Calipari likely played a big part in Washington’s improvement from his freshman season to his sophomore season. He averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first year, and averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in his second year.

"“He’s definitely like a mentor now. Last year he was definitely a coach getting on us all of the time, screaming, all that stuff. But now, he’s definitely a mentor, asking us questions about how our organizations are and stuff like that. So, I mean, it’s definitely great to have a guy like that.”"

Luckily for Washington, he learned from a great coach in college and will learn from an up-and-coming coach in the NBA with James Borrego. The Hornets may be in a rebuild situation, but Borrego is big on player development and will get the best out of some of his youngsters. Also, he came over from a first-class organization in the San Antonio Spurs. He learned a lot from his time there and is trying to imply some of those tricks that he learned with his current group.

Washington does have skills that will translate well in today’s NBA. He can shoot from three-point range, he’s got playmaking skills as a power forward and he gets after it on the glass. He’s not the best athlete or defender, but he’s clearly skilled.

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Player development is going to be key for the Charlotte Hornets for the next few years, especially since they are likely going to be rebuilding. Washington is going to be an intriguing prospect to watch. He showed a lot of improvement in college; let’s hope he can carry that over to the NBA.